This Christmas marks one of the first in the last few years to have some essence of normality about it. However, this year, there are still wider issues at play – the cost-of-living crisis has seen many scale back their budgets this Christmas, whilst the growth of online shopping has led to a decline in in-store footfall and spending.
In this blog, we take a look at some of the top trends to characterise holiday spending for students this year, sharing tips on how brands can set their customer experience apart and learn from a generation who are putting sustainability higher on the agenda than ever before.
Check out our key take-aways (P.S, contrary to the introduction, we promise it’s not all doom and gloom…).
Online is king for Gen Z – so set your in-store experiences apart
There’s no doubt about it – young consumers draw almost all of their festive inspiration from the online world. Platforms such as TikTok and Instagram have exploded in the last few years for their social commerce features – and Gen Z have fallen hook, line and sinker, with 53% of students surveyed by Student Beans revealing they’d bought something after seeing it on Instagram. This Christmas, students and Gen Z consumers are expected to purchase gifts through online mediums; but this doesn’t take brick-and-mortar shops out of the race. When Gen Z are choosing to shop in person, they’re looking for unique experiences and reasons to choose your brand. Brands that are expected to see more traction are those using interactive, innovative displays and experiential shopping spaces. One example is the Gymshark store on Regent Street, which recently opened as a physical space for the first time last month. The highly-anticipated store offers the chance for consumers to not only purchase items, but to exercise in their in-store studio and receive fitness advice from professionals at ‘The Pro Bench’.
Christmas gifts don’t have to be new to be sparkly!
The cost-of-living crisis is a topic hot on the mind of almost every student this year, with a staggering 78% of students planning to cut back on their festive spending – so it’s more important than ever to drive brand loyalty through exclusive discounts and offers for students. This year, we’re seeing an intersection between spending cuts and students choosing to shop for affordable, pre-loved items. This trend has been accelerated for Gen Z through Love Island’s partnership with eBay and second-hand apps such as Narchie and PLT Marketplace entering the market, with 32% of students expected to buy second hand gifts from reseller sites this Christmas.
Sustainability concerns also play a role in this: Gen Z are more conscious about the environment than any other generation. Taking note of this is essential for your brand marketing strategy at Christmas – research conducted by Voxburner, Student Beans’ in-house youth insights agency revealed that 77% of those aged 16-24 would be more inclined to buy from a brand if the brand makes sustainable choices. Brands such as Reformation and Patagonia have been praised by Gen Z consumers for their focus on environmental initiatives; so consider this in your strategy when trying to win the hearts (and purchasing power!) of Gen Z this Christmas.
Influencers + Gen Z = a match made in heaven…
We already know that Gen Z are digital natives, but when it comes to purchasing online, they’re forgoing Trust Pilot and instead placing their favour with influencers. In fact, a whopping 52% of Gen Zers have revealed they trust influencers’ advice on the products they affiliate themselves with. This Christmas, brands should maximise their conversions by partnering with influencers that are trailblazing in their specific spaces. Gen Z are all about authenticity; and they’re likelier to buy from your brand if they see a genuine advocate for the product.
A great example is US make-up brand Colorpop’s partnership with beauty influencers Nikkie Tutorials and Kathleen Lights. Both influencers have a huge reach on Youtube and TikTok, with individual fanbases. Product endorsements from influencers that have organically grown communities in a specific sector (such as beauty) will help your brand exposure and credibility in your space this Christmas.
Affordability over everything
As previously mentioned, the cost of living crisis is having a marked effect on almost everything this year. Research from Student Beans reveals that affordability is at the top of every student’s wish list this year, with 71% shopping around to find the best deal. Set your brand apart by offering exclusive student discounts, free gifts and free delivery to increase your conversions and brand loyalty.
Want to learn more about the emerging Gen Z trends that every marketer should be aware of? Our infographic covers everything from changing shopping behaviours, where students get their festive inspiration and affordability in the wake of a cost-of-living crisis. Download our Festive Marketing to Students: Cheat Sheet here.